RCM responds to Labour Party research on maternity unit closures

By RCM Media Office on 28 August 2018 Maternity Unit Closures Labour Party Research

New research published today (Tuesday 28th August) by the Labour Party shows that nearly half of England’s maternity units closed to new mothers at some point in 2017.

Responding, Gill Walton General Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM); “Safety in our maternity services is paramount and that is why the RCM respects and supports decisions made by midwife managers to close maternity units when levels of staffing are not safe.

“Maternity units must be closed when failing to do so will compromise the safety of the service and the care already being received by women and their babies.

“We know trusts are facing huge pressures to save money demanded by the Government, but this cannot be at the expense of safety. We remain 3,500 midwives short in England and if some maternity units regularly have to close their doors it suggests there is an underlying problem around capacity staffing levels.

“Some progress has been made in the past year and the RCM is working with the Government and Health Education England to ensure our maternity services are safe and midwife numbers increase.

“In April this year the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Jeremy Hunt announced plans to train an additional 3,000 more midwives over the next four years, but what we need now is a commitment from the government that NHS trusts are going to get an increase in funding that they so desperately need so they employ the new midwives.

“Also, the recent pay agreement between the health unions and the government after 7 years of pay freezes will help our maternity services to retain the midwives they have and it will aid the recruitment of more into the profession.

“Midwives and maternity support workers work tirelessly every day to deliver safe high quality care and its important women who are currently pregnant are not distressed by this research.

“A priority going forward for all UK maternity services is continuity of carer and this would ensure every woman has a named midwife during pregnancy and one-to-one care in labour so it’s never been more crucial that we have enough midwives and maternity support workers in our maternity services.”